VanderLeest, Warren Claude, was born on February 15, 1923 in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Henry and Lillian VanderLeest. Warren moved to Los Angeles, Ca. in 1935. After attending Washington High School he served 3 years in the Navy during WWII, being discharged in 1946 as a Specialist Gunner First Class. Married to Jean VanderLeest (deceased) for 46 years, he studied at CSULB and UCLA, earning B.A. and M.A. degrees. Warren taught at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, Ca. for 30 years until retiring at the age of 62 to enjoy his ''golden years'' biking along the beach, building model train sets, and gardening at his Hollywood Riviera home. A member of Seaside Community Church for over 25 years, Warren served as usher and greeter, always welcoming all in attendance with a warm smile and a handshake. He was involved in numerous community organizations including Riviera Little League, Torrance YMCA, Palos Verdes Pop Warner Football, Redondo Masonic Temple, South Torrance High Booster Club, and many others. Warren is survived by his three children Christine VanderLeest, Candace Starkey, and Wayne VanderLeest, his son-in-law Joseph Starkey, and his two grandsons Michael and Gregory Starkey. A viewing will be held at the White and Day Colonial Mortuary in Redondo Beach on Friday, May 13 from 5-8 pm. Funeral Services will be held at Seaside Community Church in Torrance on Saturday, May 14 at 10 am, with interment following at San Gabriel Cemetery at 1 pm.

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  1. Wayne, I heard about the loss of your father and my family and I are sending you our deepest sympathy. Our prayers and thoughts are with you and your family in this time of grief. God Bless your dad. God Bless you and your family. Your friend, Cory Hons

  2. Dear Christine, I was so sorry to read about your dad\’s passing. It\’s hard I know – even if you are prepared -or think you are. Know you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Sue Burin

  3. I had the privlege of being both a student and peer of “Mr. Van”. As a student at Mira Costa, I took print shop and, frankly, it was one of my most cherished memories. Van taught me how to use the printing presses and linotype (no squirts!) machine – but more valuable, the importance of meeting deadlines and working overtime if needed to get the job done. I don\’t think he ever had clean hands, by the way. At first, he seemed so mean, but later, you realized he was just looking to get kids to do thier best and really was a regular guy. How regular? I can truly say that he is the only teacher I ever had that passed wind and blamed it on me!! When I became a Vice Prinicpal, I realized what a truly great guy he was. Always joking and having fun, he was a delight. By the mid \’80\’s, he really was looking forward to retirement. Later, after he retired, he would come back and it always seemed like we were old friends. He would brag about riding his bike all over the place – until he had an accident that almost really hurt him bad. Didn\’t say too much after that……. My most heartfelt sympathies to the family. A man\’s importance is often judged by the impact made on those who surounded him. Van\’s impact on thousands of kids, co-workers, friends and family assures an enduring importance.

  4. I will always remember Van as one of the “good guys” in the old days at Mira Costa High School. He gave freely of his time and talent, created materials, went way beyond what his job called for in working with teachers and students. It\’s hard to think of Van without smelling the ink, hearing the machinery run, listening to him laugh and bark about something at the same time. From overseeing what was the school\’s communication center in the 60s, 70s, and 80s to selecting students for scholarships to boosting some good idea on a moment\’s notice, Van was somebody you could count on to get the job done – and to help you to have a good time doing it. Van did something that we\’d all like to think we\’ve done: he made a difference. Innumerable students learned important life lessons from him – and so did beginning teachers and, later, beginning administrators. He made it possible for teachers, counselors, and administrators to run programs that benefitted students in myriad ways, and he contributed to the positive, fun, “let\’s go do it” attitude in those days that made Mira Costa a uniquely good place to work. It\’s hard to believe he\’s gone – but, clearly, he won\’t be forgotten. We send our heartfelt sympathies to his family, along with our gratitude for having known him.

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